The ‘Third Place’ and Its Social Influence

The ‘Third Place’ and Its Social Influence

In an average week, where do you go aside from home and your workplace? According to sociologist Ray Oldenburg, people crave for a ‘third place’, a place where they can spend time between home (the first place) and work (the second place). These are common spaces where people can unwind, interact, or just kill time. Parks, clubhouses, salons, and gyms are just a few examples of the third places. But coffee shops seem to be a top favourite because they satisfy almost all the criteria of a perfect ‘third place’ : welcoming and comfortable, presence of food and drink, highly accessible, and visited by old and new friends. Imagine the FRIENDS gang hanging out at their usual couch in Central Perk.

That’s a classic third place scenario. Coffee houses have a long tradition in our history as a place where people could meet and discuss ideas or just enjoy each other’s company. But in the 1990s, their role (and number) expanded greatly.

While some patrons still do socialize at their local cafés, many do not and use them as a third place — not quite home and not quite work, but with elements of both. Everybody who spends time in coffee shops knows about it and experiences it, some on an everyday basis.

It is imperative that a public gathering place has an atmosphere conducive to interaction. In a study exploring the physical and social qualities that encouraged gathering in third places, specifically coffee shops, Florida State University’s Lisa Waxman found that coffee shops served as a key component of residents’ social interaction and community connection. She writes, “Overall, regular coffee shops patrons felt a strong attachment to their chosen coffee shop as well as the community in which they resided. There was a positive correlation between length of patronage and feelings of attachment to the community.” A newly renovated coffee shop will enhance the neighborhood’s appeal, but the question here is how to maximize the shop’s positive impact in the community.

Over all, coffee experience is something that we all can enjoy and win from: patrons from drinking a cup of coffee in a great atmosphere and shop owners from serving their guests. As we already talked about the reasons why people go to coffee shops, it is important to remember that behind every and each of them are basic needs of socializing and feeling fulfilled. To make customers feel like at the third place and make them stick to the place, business owners should do 4 easy steps:

  1. Know your audience: know the reasons why people come to you and what they like and dislike about your store.
  2. Depending on your audience improve customer experience – not only service, but the whole experience in the store, including everything that can be posted on Instagram, so people will spread the word and come back.
  3. Provide good quality product-coffee and/or food- without the quality it does not matter how comfortable your furniture is.
  4. Last but not least, WiFi: it is hard to deny importance of technology in our lives. So do not deny it in your store, let people surf the web/work/study and enjoy their time with coffee and come back for more.


There are different kind of people going for coffee every day, as an owner of a coffee shop you are free to chose your target audience and work with them. This time we listed most common reasons for people to go to coffee shops and how to use it in your daily operations. At the end of the day coffee circle is a big community and by understand who and why goes to drink coffee at your place you understand who is your community.